Labour promises housing boost with reforms to green belt

Labour has pledged that it will deliver the “biggest boost” in affordable and social housing for a generation” including council housing if it wins the next election.

Angela Rayner, the party’s deputy leader, and shadow housing secretary, said that the party would reform the planning system to speed up building and strengthen renters’ rights.

She told Labour’s conference in Liverpool yesterday that the Conservatives “look down on people living in social housing”.

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“Well, I say: Let’s stare right back, and never be ashamed,” she told the packed hall of party members, activists and party colleagues.

Angela Rayner gestures as she addresses delegates during day one of the annual Labour party conference in Liverpool, England.Angela Rayner gestures as she addresses delegates during day one of the annual Labour party conference in Liverpool, England.
Angela Rayner gestures as she addresses delegates during day one of the annual Labour party conference in Liverpool, England.

She told members that council housing had changed her life, and that “the Labour government took me from a council estate to the parliamentary estate.

“Labour will achieve rental reform where the Tories have failed for four and a half years, finishing the job by banning ‘no fault’ evictions,” she said.

“We’ll give first-time buyers ‘first dibs’ on new developments in their communities, with a comprehensive mortgage guarantee scheme for those who don’t have access to the bank of mum and dad.”

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Later today Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, will go further on Labour’s housing policy, in her own speech at the party’s conference, where she is expected to announce how the party will overhaul the UK’s “antiquated planning system” in order to “get Britain building again”.

It comes after she told The Sunday Times that Labour intends to review the rules around building on greenbelt land as part of an attempts to solve Britain’s housing crisis which has seen young people struggling to own a home.

The Leeds MP is set to promise a “once-in-a-generation” set of reforms that could speed up the decision times for major infrastructure projects that have increased by 65 per cent since 2012.

The changes would include updating all national policy statements, some of which have not been revised for over a decade, within the first six months of Labour entering office.

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These would detail what types of projects the country needs while weaving considerations about economic growth and net zero into the planning system, according to Labour.

Planning applications would be fast-tracked for battery factories, laboratories and 5G infrastructure.

Labour would also tackle time-consuming litigation by setting clearer national guidance for developers on consulting local communities and provide a menu of potential incentives such as cheaper energy bills to help local communities welcome clean energy projects.

Ms Reeves is expected to say: “If we want to spur investment, restore economic security and revive growth, then we must get Britain building again.

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“The Tories would have you believe we can’t build anything any more. In fact, the single biggest obstacle to building infrastructure, to investment and to growth in this country is the Conservative Party itself.

“If the Tories won’t build, if the Tories can’t build, then we will. Taking head-on the obstacles presented by our antiquated planning system.

“So, today, I am announcing our plans to get Britain building. A once-in-a-generation set of reforms to accelerate the building of critical infrastructure for energy, transport and technology. To fast-track battery factories, life sciences and 5G infrastructure, and to tackle the litigation which devours time and money before we ever see shovels in the ground.

“And to make sure that when a local community hosts critical national infrastructure, they will feel the benefits, including lower energy bills.”